Sunday, April 15, 2012

How To Make The Perfect White Rice

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My daughter laughed when I told her my first recipe in this blog was going to be for white rice..then a long silence. That was 3 years ago, almost to the day, and I still haven't published that post. Today, after three long years and almost 600 recipes I am going to do so.

It took me years to come up with the perfect method for cooking rice seeing that I always cooked it the way my mother does, and although she's a fabulous cook, she's a terrible rice maker.  Making good white rice is not as easy as it seems.  It is an art and the mark of a good Latin cook.  Believe me, I have had my share of bad ones and very seldom have I experienced the real thing.  The quality of the rice, the amount of water and the pot used to cook the rice are the most important equations in achieving perfection. And no, a rice maker won't do the trick, it will just make you a good amateur rice maker.

Unlike Chinese or Japanese white rice, boiled white rice as eaten in the Americas, Europe and the Middle East should not be sticky.  Asian rice is sticky for a that you can easily pick it up with chopsticks!  The only time I increase the water to twice the amount of rice and cook it covered until done is when I make it to accompany Chinese food.  For all others I use the quantities and method a specified below.

To begin with,  I never use Uncle Ben's rice. When we first came to this country in the 60's that is all we could find in the grocery stores.  Then I moved to Miami in the mid 90's and discovered Mahatma, which is what most Latin cooks have been using for years.  Luckily, you can find it in any grocery store nowadays.

Second, I use less water than usual, and third but most important, I cook it uncovered for the first few minutes until the water is almost all absorbed and then cover and continue cooking in low heat until the rice is done. A Colombian cook showed me this method and she used to make the best rice I have ever tasted.

As to the right pot, there is only one.  A caldero is a cast iron cooking pot, similar to a Dutch oven, with a tight-fitting lid. It is used to cook rice, braise meat, and simmer stews and soups.  It is indispensable not only in the making of rice but for anyone interested in making good Latin food.  If you live in Miami, you can find them everywhere including Publix supermarkets.  You can also order them online through Amazon here, but do not order the set of 3, they are not made of cast iron aluminum.. 

18 centimeter cast aluminum caldero by Imusa

Calderos are a wonderful and inexpensive alternative to Le Cresuet braisers and if you need to put them in the oven just cover the plastic black button on top of the lid with aluminum foil.  It works! The 18 centimeter size is the one I use most often.  It is perfect for 1 to 1/2 cups of rice.

Latin cooks will have as many as four Calderos in varying sizes and prefer those made of cast aluminum because it gets seasoned with use. A seasoned Caldero is as personal to a Latin cook as a baseball mitt is to a ball player or a wok to a Chinese cook. Most use their caldero daily.

Oh, and one last thing, do not wash the rice before cooking!

Here are the measurements for 1 cup of rice which serves 3-4 people.

1 1/2 C of water
1 tsp. canola or other neutral oil or butter (i use the latter)
1/2 tsp salt
1 C Mahatma Rice

In a saucepan with a covered lid or caldero bring the water, salt and butter to a boil.  Add rice, stir with a fork to ensure rice is level  and covered in water and lower temperature to low.  Cook uncovered until half the water is absorbed .

 Then cover and continue cooking until all the water is absorbed.*  DO NOT TOUCH THE RICE.  If you see that the rice is not fully cooked when the water is almost all absorbed, add a little more water, cover and continue cooking. 

Once rice is done, lift cover, fluff with a FORK and remove from the stove.   Let all the steam come out. You can place the cover back after a couple of minutes to keep warm.  Rice should be served immediately after it's done.


*Some cooks place a folded paper towel between the rice and the lid in the last minutes of cooking. This helps to absorb extra moisture

Photo #1 Getty
All others Lindaraxa


  1. I use the standard two cups of water to one cup of rice method, whether for white rice or brown. That is, unless I am making baked rice, which is heaven. To do so, sautee some diced white or yellow onion in butter, fold in the uncooked rice and cook it until translucent -- two or three minutes. Then add chicken stock (unseasoned and unsalted), seasoning, and then bake at 375 for 20 or so minutes. Delicious!

  2. I like to use Thai (Jasmine) rice. It has a good flavor, and seems the most forgiving of variations in cooking technique. I am going to try your half-uncovered method the next time I make it.

  3. Wow Reg a recipe! sounds good...

  4. Parnassus

    I adore Jasmine rice. You might need to add a little more water to it, just watch.

  5. Exactly the way I cook rice down to the butter. It's the simple things that have to be perfect because there is so little room for error. Lately I've been using my new Demeyere sauce pan because the new kitchen it going induction. It's wider than tall (like All-Clad) and has required this old dog to learn the new tricks of temp/time again. Sigh......

  6. This recipe is just for plain white rice.Brown rice is a different animal. It requires 2 cups for every cup of brown rice and needs to be cooked covered for 30 mins or more.

  7. Home.

    The simple things are indeed the hardest and the ones people don't bother about. If the rice is good chances are a good meal will follow!

  8. I've been thinking about rice this week. The Indian restaurants here have the best rice, it's cooked but dry, and perfectly seasoned. I love the info you've provided here, good ideas to improve my rice.

  9. Just discovered your blog. I've enjoyed reading some of your posts and recipes. I pinned some of your recipes to my Pinterest board.

    This is an especially good post on cooking white rice. I don't need no stinkin' rice cooker! ;) Right?


  10. My main food is rice because i live is thanks! for your awesome instruction.

  11. THis recipe will yield rice that is not sticky and also very good for making fried rice. Prepare your rice as usual, in a pot or rice cooker (about 2 cups water to 1 cup of rice). If desired, add a little salt and 1 tsp of lemon juice. Cook untill it boils for 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and make a note on the amount of water remaining. Then rinse it twice in hot water. Drain and put it back in the pot or rice cooker. Add enough hot water to the pot remembering how much water there was still there before you rinsed the starch out. Continue cooking, covered. If using a rice cooker, then put it back to cook. If using a pot, let it boild and then reduce heat to about 1-2 on the stove knob.
    This will produce rice that is not sticky and very good f or making fried rice that is not going to stick together. Thie recipe will help diabetics as it reduces the amount of starch in the rice.

    1. I tried this recipoe and it is as oil needed and the lemon made the rice white and fluffy. thanks for the recipe

  12. About NOT washing rice before cooking: Always wash rice before cooking unless the lable says "no need t o rinse"/ It is imperative to wash as some rice hullers/drinders ahve bits of metal or also oil and contaminated powder when packed. The rice package could also contain little bugs that is almost invisible to the eye, To be safe: ALWAYS WASH YOU RICE BEFORE COOKING". However, some manufacturers/packagers of rice, add, as a matter of US Law, add vitamins, minerals, etc. So if the package says so or it says not to rinse, then follow the label.


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